Feasting with God #5
Bread from Heaven
11And the Lord said to Moses, 12“I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” 13In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”
“What is it?” asked the Israelites – in Hebrew this question would have sounded like, “Manna?” Hence, from that time forward, Israel referred to this miraculous bread from heaven as “manna” (Ex. 16:31). Its name is quite telling. “What is it?” It is unknown, incomprehensible, incredible, miraculous. What else can we call it but “what-is-it”?
Of course, we do not currently receive this miraculous bread provided by God. Nevertheless, we do receive our daily bread from him. How easy isn’t it to fall into the same pattern that the Israelites did? Their God had miraculously rescued them after inflicting Egypt with ten plagues, divided the waters of the Red Sea so that they could pass by on dry land, and led them in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. But now Israel began to grumble: “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 16:3). How often don’t we see the occasional pangs of hunger rather than the countless blessings we receive? Do we know better than God? We so often do exactly what Israel did, and instead of thank God for his blessings, we complain to him about what we don’t have.
But nevertheless God is merciful. Even as Israel complained, God “heard the grumbling of the people of Israel,” and provided for them. He does the same for us. Even as we grumble and complain about the injustice of God for not giving us what we want, he continues to give us what we need to live. And more than this, he has given us already the very thing we needed for our spiritual survival. As the manna was sent down from heaven into the wilderness, so into the wilderness of this world where “there is none who does good, not even one” (Ps. 14:3) the true Bread of Life came down from heaven to feed our souls. As the Israelites could daily go out and gather the food they needed to live out of God’s providence, so in his Son God gave us the one who said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We hunger in our bellies, but God fills us with even greater things than earthly bread, filling even our souls.
So we can continue to call upon God, and beg him to provide for us. The Israelites complained out of the wickedness of their hearts, and yet God provided for them. How much more won’t God provide for us when we cry out to him in faith, knowing that he can and will give us what we need?
O Lord, as we come to you often complaining and burdened by the wearisome things of this world, do not turn away from us in anger, but hear our complaints and provide for us, as you have done, and as we know you will continue to do. Provide indeed our daily bread which we need to live in this life, but even more so, provide our spiritual nourishment, which you give us through faith in your Son, the true Manna from Heaven. Through his name we pray in confidence. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.